Facing opposition, Kerala govt clarifies it is only commuting sentences of 1850 prisoners

Allegations rose that several of these prisoners were convicted for sexual offences and drug-related cases.
Facing opposition, Kerala govt clarifies it is only commuting sentences of 1850 prisoners
Facing opposition, Kerala govt clarifies it is only commuting sentences of 1850 prisoners
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Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan while speaking to reporters in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday, said that the state government does not intend to release as many as 1850 prisoners lodged in various prisons, but only wishes to commute their sentences.

His statement comes in the wake of widespread opposition within political circles over the government’s proposed move to release the prisoners. BJP’s former state president V Muraleedharan, for instance, saw the move as the government siding with the “criminals” instead of the people.

KPCC President VM Sudheeran, who was vocal about his opposition, warned the state government of law and order issues if so many prisoners- who are let off using political influence- were released prematurely. 

With Governor P Sathasivam sending back the state government’s proposal on February 15, seeking more clarification on the methodology adopted to shortlist the names, this has only given more strength to the opposing voices. 

According to a press release from the Raj Bhavan, the Governor returned the file "seeking some clarification in view of the latest judgments of the Supreme Court". 

After media outlets reported on this development, allegations surfaced that the list of the prisoners included those who were convicted for heinous crimes. Social media was abuzz with several memes that criticized the Pinarayi government, terming it as favouring the culprits.

The allegations then forced R Sreelekha, DGP Prisons, to come out with an explanation on the matter. 

In a press release issued on Tuesday, the DGP said that all the necessary procedures were followed while preparing the list and that the allegations were baseless. 

'In August last year, the government asked for a list of prisoners whose sentence could be remitted and the list was prepared according to the same procedures followed by the previous governments," reads the release.

Based on the government's directive, the jail authorities submitted a list of 2262 prisoners on October 17. The proposal then went to the home ministry, the scrutiny committee and only then the final list was brought to the consideration of the government. 

Dismissing media reports that all the 1850 prisoners will be released if the proposal is okayed, DGP R Sreelekha said that not more than a hundred prisoners who are completing their sentence in the near future, are likely to be released. She assured that none of the prisoners sentenced for life will be released. 

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